Preservice Teachers Participate in Professional Development Schools
Dateline: August 8, 2018
College of Education preservice teachers participated in professional development school settings this summer as part of their field experience. Professional Development Schools (PDS) are partnerships between Athens State University’s College of Education and select P-12 schools.
The PDS sites are beneficial in a myriad of ways. The unique field experience provides the teacher candidates with real-world experiences in a supportive environment. Candidates are teamed with peers and work alongside certified teachers as they teach students enrolled in the summer programs. University supervisors also benefit from the program as they have the opportunity to help facilitate the implementation of best practices in real-world settings. Throughout the two-week program, professors and cooperating teachers provide constructive feedback and ideas to teacher candidates as the education majors implement various classroom management, assessment, and hands-on teaching strategies. Most importantly, the P-12 students who participate receive quality instruction and experience summer academic gains.
On average, students tend to lose 25-30% of their knowledge acquired during the school year over the summer. This is commonly referred to as summer learning loss or summer setback. One goal of the PDS sites is to help students stay on track. The PDS sites provide instruction and opportunities for students not to lose content knowledge but to grow academically.
This summer, four public schools served as PDS sites. Two sites were located in both Athens and Hartselle. Athens Elementary served as the site for rising grades first through third while Athens Intermediate School was a PDS site for children in grades four through seven. Both sites focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Each classroom consisted of innovative hands-on instruction. Athens State teacher candidates created a variety of lessons that demanded full participation from all students. Each classroom was filled with fun, laughter, higher-order thinking, student engagement and active learning during the two-week period. Students encountered a wide array of problem solving challenges and had to be creative in ways to finish each task presented to them. Some of the STEM lessons included inflating balloons with baking soda and vinegar, building cars with drinking straws and Life Savers candy, or making ice cream with ice cubes and milk. Each lesson was carefully planned and achieved.
Burleson Elementary and Crestline Elementary served as the PDS sites for rising first, second, third, and fourth graders in Hartselle. Preservice teachers designed interdisciplinary lessons based on a “Space” theme at Burleson Elementary and an “Africa” theme at Crestline Elementary. During the two-week program, elementary-age children explored a planetarium, wrote creative stories about space travel, read a plethora of literature, made designs from watercolors, created paintings of wax resist, made flip books, represented data through the creation of hands-on bar graphs, and participated in developmentally appropriate physical education games. This theme-based approach provided the students with an opportunity to link the disciplines of math, reading, language arts, science, social studies, art, and physical education in a fun and meaningful way.
The Professional Development School Summer programs in Athens and Hartselle were beneficial and free of charge. Each site was unique, designed for student achievement, and beneficial to all stakeholders.